3 Foods That Boost Energy

Changing up your diet will affect brain chemistry (certain foods alter hormones that affect both energy levels and mood).  For example, an extremely low carbohydrate diet (one that eliminates fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, starches, dairy, nuts and seeds) will deprive your brain of glucose.  Your brain ONLY functions on glucose.  Luckily, we can break down fats and proteins all the way down to glucose (chem-geeks: the carbons on fatty acids and proteins are converted to acetyl CoA, which enters into Krebs for oxidation and ultimately produces our “energy currency,” ATP).  Through consuming fat and protein, we can still provide the brain with glucose in the form of “ketones” (another energy source).  Unfortunately, using ketones for energy means nasty side effects like prolonged dizziness, headaches, weakness and sometimes nausea/diarrhea.

Glucose coming in the form of fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, etc provide high level functioning.  There are a ton of healthy foods that fit the bill.  Here are three energy-boosting choices that will provide a psychological edge:

1. Oatmeal. This is a complex carbohydrate (whole grain) high in fiber.   Whole grains provide energy to the body because of the high fiber content — fiber is an undigestible carbohydrate that helps slow the breakdown and absorption of sugar.  This is important.  Slowing down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream means that the energy your body absorbs and utilizes is time-released.  This is the opposite of what happens with simple sugars, which are rapidly absorbed to provide quick, short-lived bursts of energy (great for sports, not for the desk).

2. Almonds & Cashews.  All nuts are great energy-providers, but these two contain high levels of magnesium (a mineral that is a co-factor involved in cellular respiration, which is the way we produce ATP).  Additionally, nuts are a good source of protein and fiber, both necessary to properly satiate and avoid hunger.

3. Fresh produce. Fruits and veggies have an incredible amount vitamins and minerals.  Specifically, having enough folate and iron helps produce red blood cells in carrying oxygenated blood to exercising muscles.

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